This movie is not “a point-blank buckshot blast of American rage”. So why say it? Why is it we lambaste hyperbole in patently paid-for big budget movie reviews, but overlook the same hyperbole when it’s applied to low budget crap? Yes, yes – low budget movies need good reviews if they’re to find an audience. I’m fine with that. But movies like Shotgun Stories are not good; they’re just low budget. And saying Shotgun Stories is “a high calibre thriller that’s an explosive debut” is bullshit. This is a movie where if you took the word “yeah” out of the script and forbid the cast to look at things meaningfully… NOTHING WOULD F—ING HAPPEN.
The greatest special effect is the close-up. Every vista pales in comparison with the human face. Because without that face – what do you connect with? What moves you? The desert might be a character in Lawrence of Arabia, but its performance is opaque. What makes Lawrence is Peter O’Toole. The same way – in Apocalypse Now – Marlon Brandon shows you what the jungle is thinking. In director Tarsem Singh’s breathtaking movie, The Fall, there are sights that equal anything David Lean or Francis Ford Coppola accomplished. And there is also a little girl (Catinca Untaru), whose face knocks every other wonder into a cocked hat.
If every movie is a message in a bottle, what’s most surprising isn’t the volume of bottles, but how many people fish out each message. Think of the number of Jim Jarmusch fans out there. Or how many people seem to connect with Joel and Ethan Coen. Recently, I saw my first Guy Maddin movie and felt a sense of kinship. Maddin is a Canadian lunatic (I realise that may be a tautology) who makes movies inspired by “early film melodramas, Weimar Republic German silent films, and 1920s Soviet agit-prop”. Where do I connect with that? Is it because Maddin is also funny? Should I start seeing other bottles?